carl schmitt on friends and foes

    Carl Schmitt, The Concept of the Political, Section 3

    The friend and enemy concepts are to be understood in their concrete and existential sense, not as metaphors or symbols, not mixed and weakened by economic, moral, and other conceptions, least of all in a private-individualistic sense as a psychological expression of private emotions and tendencies. They are neither normative nor pure spiritual antitheses. Liberalism in one of its typical dilemmas (to be treated further under Section 8) of intellect and economics has attempted to transform the enemy from the viewpoint of economics into a competitor and from the intellectual point into a debating adversary. In the domain of economics there are no enemies, only competitors, and in a thoroughly moral and ethical world perhaps only debating adversaries. It is irrelevant here whether one rejects, accepts, or perhaps finds it an atavistic remnant of barbaric times that nations continue to group themselves according to friend and enemy, or hopes that the antithesis will one day vanish from the world, or whether it is perhaps sound pedagogic reasoning to imagine that enemies no longer exist at all. The concern here is neither with abstractions nor with normative ideals, but with inherent reality and the real possibility of such a distinction. One may or may not share these hopes and pedagogic ideals. But, rationally speaking, it cannot be denied that nations continue to group themselves according to the friend and enemy antithesis, that the distinction still remains actual today, and that this is an ever present possibility for every people existing in the political sphere.
    The enemy is not merely any competitor or just any partner of a conflict in general. He is also not the private adversary whom one hates. An enemy exists only when, at least potentially, one fighting collectivity of people confronts a similar collectivity. The enemy is solely the public enemy, because everything that has a relationship to such a collectivity of men, particularly to a whole nation, becomes public by virtue of such a relationship. The enemy is hostis, not inimicus in the broader sense; πολέμιος, not ἐχθρός.9 As German and other languages do not distinguish between the private and political enemy, many misconceptions and falsifications are possible. The often quoted “Love your enemies” (Matt. 5:44; Luke 6:27) reads “diligite inimicos vestros,” ἀγαπᾶτε τοὺς ἐχθροὺς ὑμῶν, and not diligite hostes vestros. No mention is made of the political enemy. Never in the thousand-year struggle between Christians and Moslems did it occur to a Christian to surrender rather than defend Europe out of love toward the Saracens or Turks. The enemy in the political sense need not be hated personally, and in the private sphere only does it make sense to love one’s enemy, i.e., one’s adversary. The Bible quotation touches the political antithesis even less than it intends to dissolve, for example, the antithesis of good and evil or beautiful and ugly. It certainly does not mean that one should love and support the enemies of one’s own people. The political is the most intense and extreme antagonism, and every concrete antagonism becomes that much more political the closer it approaches the most extreme point, that of the friend-enemy grouping. In its entirety the state as an organized political entity decides for itself the friend-enemy distinction. Furthermore, next to the primary political decisions and under the protection of the decision taken, numerous secondary concepts of the political emanate. As to the equation of politics and state discussed under Section i, it has the effect, for example, of contrasting a political attitude of a state with party politics so that one can speak of a state’s domestic religious, educational, communal, social policy, and so on. Notwithstanding, the state encompasses and relativizes all these antitheses. However an antithesis and antagonism remain here within the state’s domain which have relevance for the concept of the political.10 Finally even more banal forms of politics appear, forms which assume parasite- and caricature-like configurations. What remains here from the original friend-enemy grouping is only some sort of antagonistic moment, which manifests itself in all sorts of tactics and practices, competitions and intrigues; and the most peculiar dealings and manipulations are called politics. But the fact that the substance of the political is contained in the context of a concrete antagonism is still expressed in everyday language, even where the awareness of the extreme case has been entirely lost.
    Und so weiter.
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    9. In his Republic (Bk. V, Ch. XVI, 470) Plato strongly emphasizes the contrast between the public enemy (πολέμιος) and the private one (ἐχθρός), but in connection with the other antithesis of war (πόλεμος) and insurrection, upheaval, rebellion, civil war (στάσις). [Stasis also means the exact opposite, i.e., peace and order. The dialectic inherent in the term is pointed out by Carl Schmitt in Politische Theologie II: Die Legende von der Erledigung jeder Politischen Theologie (Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 1970), pp. 117-118. GS] Real war for Plato is a war between Hellenes and Barbarians only (those who are “by nature enemies”), whereas conflicts among Hellenes are for him discords (στάσεις). [Thus Republic 5.470b: φαίνεταί μοι, ὥσπερ καὶ ὀνομάζεται δύο ταῦτα ὀνόματα, πόλεμός τε καὶ στάσις, οὕτω καὶ εἶναι δύο, ὄντα ἐπὶ δυοῖν τινοιν διαφοραῖν. λέγω δὲ τὰ δύο τὸ μὲν οἰκεῖον καὶ συγγενές, τὸ δὲ ἀλλότριον καὶ ὀθνεῖον. ἐπὶ μὲν οὖν τῇ τοῦ οἰκείου ἔχθρᾳ στάσις κέκληται, ἐπὶ δὲ τῇ τοῦ ἀλλοτρίου πόλεμος. In my opinion, just as we have the two terms, war and faction, so there are also two things, distinguished by two differentiae. The two things I mean are the friendly and kindred on the one hand and the alien and foreign on the other. Now the term employed for the hostility of the friendly is faction, and for that of the alien is war. (Translated by Paul Shorey.) Thus also Phaedo 66c-d: καὶ γὰρ πολέμους καὶ στάσεις καὶ μάχας οὐδὲν ἄλλο παρέχει ἢ τὸ σῶμα καὶ αἱ τούτου ἐπιθυμίαι. διὰ γὰρ τὴν τῶν χρημάτων κτῆσιν πάντες οἱ πόλεμοι γίγνονται, τὰ δὲ χρήματα ἀναγκαζόμεθα κτᾶσθαι διὰ τὸ σῶμα, The body and its desires are the only cause of wars and factions and battles; for all wars arise for the sake of gaining money, and we are compelled to gain money for the sake of the body. (Translated by Harold North Fowler.) MZ] The thought expressed here is that a people cannot wage war against itself and a civil war is only a self-laceration and it does not signify that perhaps a new state or even a new people is being created. Cited mostly for the hostis concept is Pomponius in the Digest 50, 16, 118. The most clear-cut definition with additional supporting material is in Forcellini’s Lexicon totius latinitatis (1965 ed.), II, 684: “A public enemy (hostis) is one with whom we are at war publicly. … In this respect he differs from a private enemy. He is a person with whom we have private quarrels. They may also be distinguished as follows: a private enemy is a person who hates us, whereas a public enemy is a person who fights against us.”
    10. A social policy existed ever since a politically noteworthy class put forth its social demands; welfare care, which in early times was administered to the poor and distressed, had not been considered a sociopolitical problem and was also not called such. Likewise a church policy existed only where a church constituted a politically significant counterforce.
    — translated by George Schwab, The University of Chicago Press, 1996, pp. 28-30

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